Straight-faced British humor meets garage punk rock at Bottom of the Hill

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Drenge haven’t exactly had the most “normal” rise to success in the public eye. They had found success on a smaller scale, playing gigs in their home county of Derbyshire and surrounding counties when Labour MP Tom Watson watched one of their gigs at Glastonbury last year. Later, when he resigned from his position, he ended his resignation letter with “and if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge.”

Drenge — consisting of the Loveless brothers Eoin, 21, and Rory, 23 —  however, are not here for the political parts of music or the fame. It sounds cliche, but they are really only here to play their brand of postgrunge — not to get fans, or, in Eoin’s case, even make eye contact in an interview.

This is their second time in the United States, but Eoin says “doing 21-plus shows (in the United States), it’s a bit of a weird thing for us. I dunno, in the UK we play 14-plus, and it’s just like, the entire front of the venue is packed and full of kids, jumping around and stuff like that.”

When they walk on stage, they look kind of like the kids their British audiences are partially composed of: not the 14 year olds at the barr, but the kids who live in your residence hall, or that you share Intro to Danish Cinema with. Initially, it seems surprising that they make this music, but when they start playing, the only thing that’s surprising is that they’re not commercially hugely successful – yet.

Watching their show at Bottom of the Hill on Thursday, it’s hard not to wonder what a show at home must be like for them. It’s a small audience, and frankly, it doesn’t feel like what Drenge deserves. After they play “Bloodsports” and “Fuckabout,” their two most popular songs, the crowd seems to finally get it — but before that, there was some awkwardly self-aware dancing and a pretty-small mosh circle that prompted Eoin to say, in a completely deadpan manner, that he wanted some “‘60s-girl ground dancing for our next song.”

It’s an approach that seems to be essential to understanding Drenge: a dry, sly sense of humour. When asked about the often macabre nature of their album artworks, Eoin said, “We try and keep the humour in our music and don’t try and force it out by using like visual puns or stuff like that, so … Basically, we just don’t want people to get into our band, we called it like a really horrible name, and,” he laughs, “used really aggressive artwork, and if people like the music, then they’re drawn to it regardless of the imagery or the band name or whatever.”

In a world where music with personality is sometimes drowned out by “music personalities,” Drenge’s musical approach is incredibly refreshing and, frankly, incredibly good.

Contact Tyler Allen at [email protected].